Interactions between auditory statistics processing and visual experience emerge only in late development

iScience. 2021 Oct 30;24(11):103383. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.103383. eCollection 2021 Nov 19.


The auditory system relies on local and global representations to discriminate sounds. This study investigated whether vision influences the development and functioning of these fundamental sound computations. We employed a computational approach to control statistical properties embedded in sounds and tested samples of sighted controls (SC) and congenitally (CB) and late-onset (LB) blind individuals in two experiments. In experiment 1, performance relied on local features analysis; in experiment 2, performance benefited from computing global representations. In both experiments, SC and CB performance remarkably overlapped. Conversely, LB performed systematically worse than the other groups when relying on local features, with no alterations on global representations. Results suggest that auditory computations tested here develop independently from vision. The efficiency of local auditory processing can be hampered in case sight becomes unavailable later in life, supporting the existence of an audiovisual interplay for the processing of auditory details, which emerges only in late development.

Keywords: Biological sciences; Neuroscience; Sensory neuroscience.